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Email productivity with Spark and ActiveInbox

February 26th, 2016 Posted in geeky stuff

I recently discovered Spark, and now use it along with ActiveInbox to effectively fight my way through the hundreds of emails I receive every day. If you haven’t tried either of these tools, I can recommend both of them.

ActiveInbox uses GMail’s labels to convert your inbox into a GTD-style task manager, allowing you to quickly go through emails in your inbox, classifying them as Actions to do, or postponing them until a future date (amongst other actions). It means you don’t need to treat your inbox as a todo list, with emails backing up until you no longer have a clear view of awaiting tasks. Instead you can clearly see overdue actions and add tasks and events to your calendar.

I discovered Spark with the release of version 2.0 of their app. Spark is an iOS email app that makes burning through your emails easy. Tasks like tagging, deleting, forwarding and archiving mails can be easily achieved by swiping directly on the mail, making it easy to treat emails rapidly.

Unfortunately there is a compatibility problem with these tools – in their default state it isn’t possible to use them together.  ActiveInbox organises it’s labels in three groups S – status, P – Projects, and C – Contexts. So S/Action is the label for an action, and C/home is the label for a task to be done at home. Unfortunately Spark filters these labels and only shows the name without the group : For example Action, or Home, not S/Action or C/Home.  This means that if you have another label with the same name (C/Berlin for tasks to be done next time I’m in Berlin,  P/Berlin for a project along with a general Berlin label), they will all appear together without the activeinbox type S/ label, making it impossible to know which is the activeInbox label.

The solution to this is to create three extra labels in GMail called S, C and P. You can quickly do this by sending yourself an email and tagging it with these three labels before sending it. ActiveInbox tags will then appear together, classed under their respective category.

And if you are struggling with managing the never-ending flow of email, make sure you check out ActiveInbox and Spark.

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